Thursday, January 27, 2011

travel tips

Since I just got back from a quilting trip, and I talk to many people at the store who go on retreats and trips for quilting and sewing, I thought I would pass along some of the things that work well for me when I go places with my gear. I have attended many retreats in various locations, hosted retreats, travelled with sewing friends on long trips and short ones. I have figured out that the trip goes so much better if I am organized and prepared.

I am a fan of LISTS, so I have my own customized list for sewing trips. I print it out and check off the things that I need to make sure I have with me. Even the obvious things go on my list, because it is a real bummer to get to your destination and realize that you don't have a cord or foot pedal for your machine. Been there, done that! Won't happen again!
A key to success is WHEELS! Try to find ways to move your stuff around with the help of rolling--save some strain and work from the get-go.
A few years ago one of our group snagged these rolling storage bins called the Busy Box from a local home store. Now I can only track them down online or from the Container Store and they cost about $40.
These compartments all separate and then snap back together with the little buckle things on the sides. This has travelled many miles and held up pretty well, considering it is just plastic and weighs very little empty.

The best sewing machine tote that I have found is from Tutto-- I have to admit that I just looked at their website and found one of the cheesiest videos ever! Oh well, they may not do good videos but they make an excellent product!
I have the large size and it holds way more than just my machine, I tuck in projects, lights, rulers, books, fans, thread, etc. The best thing about this bag is that it steers and swivels so easily in all directions. They come in several sizes and colors, we order them for customers at Bear Patch Sewing Center.

I take my own chair along if I am going to be sewing for a couple days, helps prevent back aches. This one is from Horn and is so much lighter to lift than many others, plus very comfy.
Again, available in different colors and can be ordered from Bear Patch Sewing Center.

My newest acquisition for my sewing pleasure is this SewEzi table, here it is folded up and ready to roll. (Strange angle in this picture, made even odder by the fact that the door it is leaning against is off the hinges and resting sideways on the floor! Such is the state of my sewing room at the moment, more on that soon!)
This is not the most lightweight item in my list, but needs to have some weight to it to be sturdy enough to not wobble under extreme sewing conditions!

My last item on wheels today is maybe a bit much for some situations, but priceless when it comes to a road trip with friends!
This is the quilting trailer, resting in a snowbank between trips. A fresh dusting of snow this morning. When I was part owner of Stitchin' Trips we found it necessary to purchase a corporate trailer for our gear. Haven't reached the level of corporate jet, yet! So this trailer is reserved for sewing stuff and an occasional load of kids belongings for college! Also makes a good storage room for freezeables!

Now, for all the small stuff that needs to accompany me, the key word is CONTAINERIZE! For projects to be made, I go through the steps of the pattern ahead of time so I can make sure I have everything called for. Then I bag it all up together and stash it in a bin or box. I try to do as much rotary cutting at home as possible, it's nice to be able to sit down at my machine and start the sewing later. Of course, package and label those little pieces. That's why you need an assortment of bags--
Multiple sizes required, colors are fun!

My little sewing necessities live in this basket which sits by my machine both at home and away. It doesn't have a lid, but fits right in the top level of myBusy Box. I know right where everything is. See the 2 round Altoid tins? One is for my tape measure and the other is for used blades, bent and broken pins and needles. I keep my spare sewing machine needles in the zipper bag, and have another little bag for pens, pencils, markers. Rotary cutter and big scissors are usually in here, too. I know that I can pick up this basket and have everything I need without extra junk.

Thread spools in many colors have to be part of the trip, and this box was made for those little Hot Wheels cars but is perfect for my purpose.
It is double sided, this half is my Aurifil (current favorite thread) and the back side holds other back-up spools and specialty threads. I still occasionally have to root around in Leisl's thread store now and then for a unique color, she stocks one whole level of her Busy Box with thread, including many "vintage" finds. Those would be the threads on wooden spools that we just can't part with but will probably break with a little strain! I can see Debbie shudder right now!

When I am gone for a week of sewing, I have a lot more to pack than will fit in my Busy Box. The best solution is to use boxes of some sort rather than bags. The boxes are stackable and safer for the contents. Lots of people use plastic storage bins, but I also like to use those cardboard boxes that printer paper comes in because they don't get too heavy to handle.

So that is about enough for now, I need to go unpack!


Nancy said...

I pack the same kits that are all ready for sewing...I also have a SewEzi table and use it both at retreat and at home for my machine. I don't take a chair, but then I don't go for a week either..I think I need one of those trailers though...We stuff everything for 3 of us into either a jeep or a van..

MissesStitches said...

Such great advice for packing, Pam! Thanks for sharing. I'm getting ready to go on retreat next week.